June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genomics of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O145:H28 strains associated with the 2007 Belgium and 2010 US outbreaks.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an emerging pathogen. Recently there has been a global in the number of outbreaks caused by non-O157 STECs, typically involving six serogroups O26, O45, 0103, 0111, and 0145. STEC O145:H28 has been associated with severe human disease including hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and is demonstrated by the 2007 Belgian ice-cream-associated outbreak and 2010 US lettuce-associated outbreak, with over 10% of patients developing HUS in each. The goal of this work was to do comparative genomics of strains, clinical and environmental, to investigate genome diversity and virulence evolution of this important foodborne pathogen.


April 21, 2020  |  

A putative microcin amplifies Shiga toxin 2a production of Escherichia coli O157: H7

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen, implicated in various multi-state outbreaks. It encodes Shiga toxin on a prophage, and Shiga toxin production is linked to phage induction. An E. coli strain, designated 0.1229, was identified that amplified Stx2a production when co-cultured with E. coli O157:H7 strain PA2. Growth of PA2 in 0.1229 cell-free supernatants had a similar effect, even when supernatants were heated to 100°C for 10 min, but not after treatment with Proteinase K. The secreted molecule was shown to use TolC for export and the TonB system for import. The genes sufficient for production of this molecule were localized to a 5.2 kb region of a 12.8 kb plasmid. This region was annotated, identifying hypothetical proteins, a predicted ABC transporter, and a cupin superfamily protein. These genes were identified and shown to be functional in two other E. coli strains, and bioinformatic analyses identified related gene clusters in similar and distinct bacterial species. These data collectively suggest E. coli 0.1229 and other E. coli produce a microcin that induces the SOS response in target bacteria. Besides adding to the limited number of microcins known to be produced by E. coli, this study provides an additional mechanism by which stx2a expression is increased in response to the gut microflora.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequences of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 Strains Recovered from a Major Production Region for Leafy Greens in California.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen and is responsible for outbreaks of human gastroenteritis. This report documents the draft genome sequences of nine O157:H7 cattle strains, which were identified to be PCR positive for a Shiga toxin gene but displayed different levels of functional toxin activity.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Complete Genome of the Atypical Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Archetype Isolate E110019 Highlights a Role for Plasmids in Dissemination of the Type III Secreted Effector EspT.

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a leading cause of moderate to severe diarrhea among young children in developing countries, and EPEC isolates can be subdivided into two groups. Typical EPEC (tEPEC) bacteria are characterized by the presence of both the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) and the plasmid-encoded bundle-forming pilus (BFP), which are involved in adherence and translocation of type III effectors into the host cells. Atypical EPEC (aEPEC) bacteria also contain the LEE but lack the BFP. In the current report, we describe the complete genome of outbreak-associated aEPEC isolate E110019, which carries four plasmids. Comparative genomic analysis demonstrated that the type III secreted effector EspT gene, an autotransporter gene, a hemolysin gene, and putative fimbrial genes are all carried on plasmids. Further investigation of 65 espT-containing E. coli genomes demonstrated that different espT alleles are associated with multiple plasmids that differ in their overall gene content from the E110019 espT-containing plasmid. EspT has been previously described with respect to its role in the ability of E110019 to invade host cells. While other type III secreted effectors of E. coli have been identified on insertion elements and prophages of the chromosome, we demonstrated in the current study that the espT gene is located on multiple unique plasmids. These findings highlight a role of plasmids in dissemination of a unique E. coli type III secreted effector that is involved in host invasion and severe diarrheal illness.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequences of Three Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli O111:H8 Strains Exhibiting an Aggregation Phenotype.

Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are a common source of foodborne illness. STEC O111 is among the most prevalent non-O157 STEC serogroups. Few completed genomes of STEC O111 strains have been reported to date. We report here the complete genomic sequences of three O111:H8 strains that display a distinct aggregation phenotype.


April 21, 2020  |  

Multidrug resistance and multivirulence plasmids in enterotoxigenic and hybrid Shiga toxin-producing/enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli isolated from diarrheic pigs in Switzerland.

Enterovirulent Escherichia coli infections cause significant losses in the pig industry. However, information about the structures of the virulence and multidrug resistance (MDR) plasmids harboured by these strains is sparse. In this study, we used whole-genome sequencing with PacBio and Illumina platforms to analyse the molecular features of the multidrug-resistant enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) strain 14OD0056 and the multidrug-resistant hybrid Shiga toxin-producing/enterotoxigenic E. coli (STEC/ETEC) strain 15OD0495 isolated from diarrheic pigs in Switzerland. Strain 14OD0056 possessed three virulence plasmids similar to others previously found in ETEC strains, while 15OD0495 harboured a 119-kb multivirulence IncFII/IncX1 hybrid STEC/ETEC plasmid (p15ODTXV) that co-carried virulence genes of both ETEC and STEC pathotypes, confirming the key role of plasmids in the emergence of hybrid pathotypes. All resistance genes of 14OD0056 that conferred resistance to ampicillin (blaTEM-1b), gentamicin (aac(3)-IIa), kanamycin (aph(3′)-Ia), sulfonamide (sul1 and sul2), streptomycin (aph(3?)-Ib, aph(6)-Id), tetracycline (tet(B)) and trimethoprim (dfrA1) were identified on a single 207-kb conjugative MDR plasmid of incompatibility group (Inc) IncHI1/IncFIA (p14ODMR). Strain 15OD0495 carried two antimicrobial resistance plasmids (p15ODAR and p15ODMR). The 99-kb IncI1 plasmid p15ODAR harboured only aminoglycoside resistance genes (aac(3)-IIa, aph(3?)-Ib, aph(6)-Id, aph(4)-Ia), whilst the 49-kb IncN MDR plasmid p15ODMR carried genes conferring resistance to ampicillin (blaTEM-1b), sulfonamide (sul2), streptomycin (aph(6)-Id), tetracycline (tet(A)) and trimethoprim (dfrA14). Filter mating assays showed that p14ODMR, p15ODMR and p15ODAR were conjugative at room temperature and 37°C. The co-localization of multiple resistance genes on MDR conjugative plasmids such as p14ODMR and p15ODMR poses the risk of simultaneous selection of several resistance traits during empirical treatment. Thus, preventive strategies and targeted therapy following antibiotic susceptibility testing should be encouraged to avoid further dissemination of such plasmids. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptomic response of Escherichia coli O157 isolates on meat: Comparison between a typical Australian isolate from cattle and a pathogenic clinical isolate

The majority of foodborne illnesses associated with E. coli O157 are attributed to the consumption of foods of bovine origin. In this study, RNA-Seq experiments were undertaken with E. coli O157 to identify genes that may be associated with growth and survival on meat and the beef carcass at low temperature. In addition, the response of an E. coli O157 isolate representative of the general genetic ‘type’ found in Australia (E. coli O157:H- strain EC2422) was compared to that of a pathogenic clinical isolate (E. coli O157:H7 strain Sakai) not typically found in Australia. Both strains up-regulated genes involved in the acid stress response, cold shock response, quorum sensing, biofilm formation and Shiga toxin production. Differences were also observed, with E. coli O157:H7 Sakai up-regulating genes playing a critical role in the barrier function of the outer membrane, lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis, extracellular polysaccharide synthesis and curli production. In contrast, E. coli O157:H- EC2422 down-regulated genes involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis and of the primary envelope stress response Cpx system. The unique gene expression profiles of the strains, indicate that these genotypes may differ in their ability to persist in the meat production environment and therefore also in their ability to cause disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Toxin and genome evolution in a Drosophila defensive symbiosis.

Defenses conferred by microbial symbionts play a vital role in the health and fitness of their animal hosts. An important outstanding question in the study of defensive symbiosis is what determines long term stability and effectiveness against diverse natural enemies. In this study, we combine genome and transcriptome sequencing, symbiont transfection and parasite protection experiments, and toxin activity assays to examine the evolution of the defensive symbiosis between Drosophila flies and their vertically transmitted Spiroplasma bacterial symbionts, focusing in particular on ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), symbiont-encoded toxins that have been implicated in protection against both parasitic wasps and nematodes. Although many strains of Spiroplasma, including the male-killing symbiont (sMel) of Drosophila melanogaster, protect against parasitic wasps, only the strain (sNeo) that infects the mycophagous fly Drosophila neotestacea appears to protect against parasitic nematodes. We find that RIP repertoire is a major differentiating factor between strains that do and do not offer nematode protection, and that sMel RIPs do not show activity against nematode ribosomes in vivo. We also discovered a strain of Spiroplasma infecting a mycophagous phorid fly, Megaselia nigra. Although both the host and its Spiroplasma are distantly related to D. neotestacea and its symbiont, genome sequencing revealed that the M. nigra symbiont encodes abundant and diverse RIPs, including plasmid-encoded toxins that are closely related to the RIPs in sNeo. Our results suggest that distantly related Spiroplasma RIP toxins may perform specialized functions with regard to parasite specificity and suggest an important role for horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of novel defensive phenotypes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sequential evolution of virulence and resistance during clonal spread of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The past two decades have witnessed an alarming expansion of staphylococcal disease caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The factors underlying the epidemic expansion of CA-MRSA lineages such as USA300, the predominant CA-MRSA clone in the United States, are largely unknown. Previously described virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes that promote the dissemination of CA-MRSA are carried by mobile genetic elements, including phages and plasmids. Here, we used high-resolution genomics and experimental infections to characterize the evolution of a USA300 variant plaguing a patient population at increased risk of infection to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence of genetic elements that facilitate clonal spread of the pathogen. Genetic analyses provided conclusive evidence that fitness (manifest as emergence of a dominant clone) changed coincidently with the stepwise emergence of (i) a unique prophage and mutation of the regulator of the pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthetic operon that promoted abscess formation and colonization, respectively, thereby priming the clone for success; and (ii) a unique plasmid that conferred resistance to two topical microbiocides, mupirocin and chlorhexidine, frequently used for decolonization and infection prevention. The resistance plasmid evolved through successive incorporation of DNA elements from non-S. aureus spp. into an indigenous cryptic plasmid, suggesting a mechanism for interspecies genetic exchange that promotes antimicrobial resistance. Collectively, the data suggest that clonal spread in a vulnerable population resulted from extensive clinical intervention and intense selection pressure toward a pathogen lifestyle that involved the evolution of consequential mutations and mobile genetic elements.


April 21, 2020  |  

SMRT sequencing reveals differential patterns of methylation in two O111:H- STEC isolates from a hemolytic uremic syndrome outbreak in Australia.

In 1995 a severe haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) outbreak in Adelaide occurred. A recent genomic analysis of Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) O111:H- strains 95JB1 and 95NR1 from this outbreak found that the more virulent isolate, 95NR1, harboured two additional copies of the Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) genes encoded within prophage regions. The structure of the Stx2-converting prophages could not be fully resolved using short-read sequence data alone and it was not clear if there were other genomic differences between 95JB1 and 95NR1. In this study we have used Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to characterise the genome and methylome of 95JB1 and 95NR1. We completely resolved the structure of all prophages including two, tandemly inserted, Stx2-converting prophages in 95NR1 that were absent from 95JB1. Furthermore we defined all insertion sequences and found an additional IS1203 element in the chromosome of 95JB1. Our analysis of the methylome of 95NR1 and 95JB1 identified hemi-methylation of a novel motif (5′-CTGCm6AG-3′) in more than 4000 sites in the 95NR1 genome. These sites were entirely unmethylated in the 95JB1 genome, and included at least 177 potential promoter regions that could contribute to regulatory differences between the strains. IS1203 mediated deactivation of a novel type IIG methyltransferase in 95JB1 is the likely cause of the observed differential patterns of methylation between 95NR1 and 95JB1. This study demonstrates the capability of PacBio SMRT sequencing to resolve complex prophage regions and reveal the genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity within a clonal population of bacteria.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomics reveals structural and functional features specific to the genome of a foodborne Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 (O157) has been linked to numerous foodborne disease outbreaks. The ability to rapidly sequence and analyze genomes is important for understanding epidemiology, virulence, survival, and evolution of outbreak strains. In the current study, we performed comparative genomics to determine structural and functional features of the genome of a foodborne O157 isolate NADC 6564 and infer its evolutionary relationship to other O157 strains.The chromosome of NADC 6564 contained 5466?kb compared to reference strains Sakai (5498?kb) and EDL933 (5547?kb) and shared 41 of its 43 Linear Conserved Blocks (LCB) with the reference strains. However, 18 of 41 LCB had inverse orientation in NADC 6564 compared to the reference strains. NADC 6564 shared 18 of 19 bacteriophages with reference strains except that the chromosomal positioning of some of the phages differed among these strains. The additional phage (P19) of NADC 6564 was located on a 39-kb insertion element (IE) encoding several hypothetical proteins, an integrase, transposases, transcriptional regulators, an adhesin, and a phosphoethanolamine transferase (PEA). The complete homologs of the 39-kb?IE were found in E. coli PCN061 of porcine origin. The IE-encoded PEA showed low homology (32-33%) to four other PEA in NADC 6564 and PEA linked to mobilizable colistin resistance in E. coli but was highly homologous (95%) to a PEA of uropathogenic, avian pathogenic, and enteroaggregative E. coli. NADC 6564 showed slightly higher minimum inhibitory concentration of colistin compared to the reference strains. The 39-kb?IE also contained dndBCDE and dptFGH operons encoding DNA S-modification and a restriction pathway, linked to oxidative stress tolerance and self-defense against foreign DNA, respectively. Evolutionary tree analysis grouped NADC 6564 with lineage I O157 strains.These results indicated that differential phage counts and different chromosomal positioning of many bacteriophages and genomic islands might have resulted in recombination events causing altered chromosomal organization in NADC 6564. Evolutionary analysis grouped NADC 6564 with lineage I strains and suggested its earlier divergence from these strains. The ability to perform S-DNA modification might affect tolerance of NADC 6564 to various stressors.


September 22, 2019  |  

The methylome of the gut microbiome: disparate Dam methylation patterns in intestinal Bacteroides dorei

Despite the large interest in the human microbiome in recent years, there are no reports of bacterial DNA methylation in the microbiome. Here metagenomic sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences platform allowed for rapid identification of bacterial GATC methylation status of a bacterial species in human stool samples. For this work, two stool samples were chosen that were dominated by a single species, Bacteroides dorei. Based on 16S rRNA analysis, this species represented over 45% of the bacteria present in these two samples. The B. dorei genome sequence from these samples was determined and the GATC methylation sites mapped. The Bacteroides dorei genome from one subject lacked any GATC methylation and lacked the DNA adenine methyltransferase genes. In contrast, B. dorei from another subject contained 20,551 methylated GATC sites. Of the 4970 open reading frames identified in the GATC methylated B. dorei genome, 3184 genes were methylated as well as 1735 GATC methylations in intergenic regions. These results suggest that DNA methylation patterns are important to consider in multi-omic analyses of microbiome samples seeking to discover the diversity of bacterial functions and may differ between disease states.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-term microbiota and virome in a Zürich patient after fecal transplantation against Clostridium difficile infection.

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an emerging therapeutic option for Clostridium difficile infections that are refractory to conventional treatment. FMT introduces fecal microbes into the patient’s intestine that prevent the recurrence of C. difficile, leading to rapid expansion of bacteria characteristic of healthy microbiota. However, the long-term effects of FMT remain largely unknown. The C. difficile patient described in this paper revealed protracted microbiota adaptation processes from 6 to 42 months post-FMT. Ultimately, bacterial communities were donor similar, suggesting sustainable stool engraftment. Since little is known about the consequences of transmitted viruses during C. difficile infection, we also interrogated virome changes. Our approach allowed identification of about 10 phage types per sample that represented larger viral communities, and phages were found to be equally abundant in the cured patient and donor. The healthy microbiota appears to be characterized by low phage abundance. Although viruses were likely transferred, the patient established a virome distinct from the donor. Surprisingly, the patient had sequences of algal giant viruses (chloroviruses) that have not previously been reported for the human gut. Chloroviruses have not been associated with intestinal disease, but their presence in the oropharynx may influence cognitive abilities. The findings suggest that the virome is an important indicator of health or disease. A better understanding of the role of viruses in the gut ecosystem may uncover novel microbiota-modulating therapeutic strategies.© 2016 New York Academy of Sciences.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next-generation sequencing for pathogen detection and identification

Over the past decade, the field of genomics has seen such drastic improvements in sequencing chemistries that high-throughput sequencing, or next-generation sequencing (NGS), is being applied to generate data across many disciplines. NGS instruments are becoming less expensive, faster, and smaller, and therefore are being adopted in an increasing number of laboratories, including clinical laboratories. Thus far, clinical use of NGS has been mostly focused on the human genome, for purposes such as characterizing the molecular basis of cancer or for diagnosing and understanding the basis of rare genetic disorders. There are, however, an increasing number of examples whereby NGS is employed to discover novel pathogens, and these cases provide precedent for the use of NGS in microbial diagnostics. NGS has many advantages over traditional microbial diagnostic methods, such as unbiased rather than pathogen-specific protocols, ability to detect fastidious or non-culturable organisms, and ability to detect co-infections. One of the most impressive advantages of NGS is that it requires little or no prior knowledge of the pathogen, unlike many other diagnostic assays; therefore for pathogen discovery, NGS is very valuable. However, despite these advantages, there are challenges involved in implementing NGS for routine clinical microbiological diagnosis. We discuss these advantages and challenges in the context of recently described research studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Role of clinicogenomics in infectious disease diagnostics and public health microbiology.

Clinicogenomics is the exploitation of genome sequence data for diagnostic, therapeutic, and public health purposes. Central to this field is the high-throughput DNA sequencing of genomes and metagenomes. The role of clinicogenomics in infectious disease diagnostics and public health microbiology was the topic of discussion during a recent symposium (session 161) presented at the 115th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that was held in New Orleans, LA. What follows is a collection of the most salient and promising aspects from each presentation at the symposium. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


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